More Bodies Found in Iraq, Total Up to 45

Three Iraqis were found shot dead near a Baghdad dam on Monday and a slain Iraqi Kurd was left in a garbage dump in northern Iraq, raising the number of bodies found in recent days to 45. The government vowed to find those responsible, saying insurgents were seeking to exploit sectarian rivalries.

Elsewhere, mortar barrages, roadside bombings and drive-by shootings killed at least 10 Iraqis, including four soldiers who died in a roadside bomb attack as they raced to a fire station that had come under mortar fire.

Batches of bodies, many blindfolded and bound, were found in various areas over the weekend, from a garbage-strewn vacant lot in Baghdad's Sadr City to a Latifiyah chicken farm south of the capital in a region dubbed the Triangle of Death.

The spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari condemned the killings and said security forces were determined to catch those responsible.

The attacks ``aim to create sectarian fighting in the country because such clashes could bring more recruits to (militant) groups,'' spokesman Laith Kuba told The Associated Press. ``The government is aware of that and will not let this plan succeed.''

Few details were available on the motives behind the killings. Insurgents regularly target Iraqi security forces, government officials and others deemed to be collaborating with U.S.-led forces in the country. Others are kidnapped and killed in attempts to extort ransom. But there have also been a stream of retaliatory attacks between armed Sunni and Shiite groups.

Most of the bodies were found over the weekend, including two Iraqi journalists found in their car on a road south of Baghdad, 10 soldiers dumped in the battleground city of Ramadi, two truck drivers lying with nine other bodies in the chicken farm and a judge found nearby. Seven others were discovered elsewhere in the Latifiyah area, about 25 miles south of the capital.

Many of the victims had been blindfolded, bound and shot multiple times in the head. Most - including 13 found in Sadr City - had no documents to identify them.

Another body was found Monday, this time an Iraqi Kurd shot in the head and chest and left in a garbage dump in Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, police and witnesses said. An Associated Press writer saw the victim, identified by police as Najat Saadoun, with his hands tied behind his back.

Associated Press Television News also obtained footage Monday showing at least three more bodies, who police said had been shot in the head, being brought into a Baghdad hospital. The bodies had been dumped near a dam in the capital's eastern Shaab neighborhood, police said.

The grisly finds were a new twist in an endless stream of violence, with more than 460 people killed in a wave of bombings and ambushes since the April 28 announcement of the new Iraqi government.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged the violence but urged patience as she met with Iraq's new leaders Sunday during a surprise trip meant to support the Iraqi government.

``Yes, the levels of violence are still very high and it's in large part because the advent of the car bomb makes it possible with relatively few people to do great damage, and that is something that has to be addressed,'' Rice said.

U.S. and Iraqi forces detained 38 suspected militants in raids Sunday and Monday in Baghdad and Kirkuk.

Iraqi forces also captured car bomb maker Salim Youssef Khafif Hussein in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, the government said Monday.

Hussein, also known as Agha Abu Dawoud, is said to have close links with Abu Talha, the head of operations in Mosul for Iraq's most-wanted militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the statement said. Hussein ``supervised and facilitated'' most of the car bomb attacks in Mosul, the statement said.

A roadside bomb killed four Iraqi soldiers Monday as they raced to a fire station that had come under mortar fire in Khan Bani Saad, 20 miles northeast of Baghdad, police Col. Mudafar Mohammed said. Four other people were wounded in the attack.

``I just arrived at the gate of the base and mortar rounds landed on it, injuring some of us,'' Lt. Col. Jabbar Hussein, who was taken to a nearby hospital suffering from shrapnel wounds, told APTN.

Two Iraqis were killed and four wounded in Baghdad's southwestern Saydiya district when another roadside bomb exploded as an Iraqi army convoy passed, said police Lt. Hussein Alwan.

An Iraqi army brigadier general also survived an ambush attempt by eight gunmen who attacked his convoy as it entered a traffic intersection in the same district, an Interior Ministry spokesman said. Soldiers returned fire, killing four gunmen and found ammunition and weapons in the cars, while the remaining militants fled on foot, the spokesman added.

At least three mortar rounds slammed into different parts of the capital, including one that hit the Engineering College of Mustansiriyah University, killing two people and wounding 12, the Interior Ministry said.

Gunmen also killed Baghdad-based policeman Razzaq Ubaid Hinaidi and his wife in a drive-by shooting late Sunday near the village of Aalgaya, 60 miles south of the capital, said Capt. Muthana Khalid Ali. The couple's two children were seriously wounded in the attack.

The international Red Cross, meanwhile, said it was trucking 36,000 gallons of fresh water a day to families displaced by recent fighting between American forces and Iraqi insurgents near Iraq's border with Syria. On Saturday, the U.S. military declared the weeklong offensive over and said it ``neutralized'' the insurgent haven.

The International Committee of the Red Cross also expressed ``deep concern'' with the high numbers of civilian casualties in Iraq in recent days.

Monday May 16, 2005 3:01 PM By BASSEM MROUE Associated press Writer

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